JIM HENSON’S THE CUBE: aired February 23, 1969
Originally published February 23, 2016.
I live with a strange philosophical contradiction.. It’s one of the things that has led me to this project. I’m by nature a strange paradox that I live with. My natural, programmed reactions in the split-second between stimulus and response - when decisions are cast that will either make my responses happier and healthier or more confused and distant – is to generally choose the latter. My natural reactions tend towards self-doubt, guilt, and shame. And yet, in the midst of all of that, I’m always struck with the belief that things can be better. That they should be better. More importantly, that I could make them better, if I just knew how. I don’t always have evidence to support this belief; it’s just something I feel, deep-down. So this project (and much of what I’ve been trying to figure out in recent years) is an attempt to understand how to create that better life that I can’t prove, and that I can’t necessarily define. A quote from Dr. Cornel West provides a good description of this process:
“I believe that critical energy, applied to any body of information, can unearth some truth. But for every unearthing, you don’t find absolute truth – you find another fallible truth, and then still another. That’s because each revelation is tied to another concealment. You reveal what’s been concealed, only to repeat the process into infinity. Enlightenment has no end. The paradoxes are never resolved.”It’s not necessarily the easiest concept to swallow, particularly when seeking answers. The idea that truth – all aspects of truth, forever – are products of concealment. That any truth is clarifying some things, but intentionally not addressing others. And if we search for the truth behind the part being concealed, we find more truth and more concealment. And Cornel West is claiming that the process is never-ending; that we can never reach a final, ultimate truth. Taken at face value, that’s not very comforting. Humans aren’t really wired for that kind of reality. Our brains are designed to recognize patterns and to constantly attempt to organize the world around us. So, the idea of absolute truth is important to us. We’re wired for it, and we look for it. We look for it in science, we look for it in religion, we look for it in mathematics. We can even convince ourselves that we have the right answers, and it’s the rest of the world who doesn’t know something that we do. We play a game with truth – with reality itself – and convince ourselves that we’ve figured things out. But Cornel West – and many, many others – would argue that truth and reality don’t work that way.
“…the highest things are beyond words. This is probably why all art aspires to the condition of wordlessness. When literature works on you, it does so in silence, in your dreams, in your wordless moments. Good words enter you and become moods, become the quiet fabric of your being. Like music, like painting, literature too wants to transcend its primary condition and become something higher. Art wants to move into silence, into the emotional and spiritual conditions of the world. Statues become melodies, melodies become yearnings, yearnings become actions.”When Jim Henson said, “I believe we can create our own reality”, there is no more iconoclastic statement to a world of simulation. By creating, we can escape the cube. Even if it’s only momentarily, we can escape The Cube. We can escape this reality which more perception than objective truth. It doesn’t need to break our spirit or alter our identity. The simulations in which we live don’t have to destroy us, or even limit us. The goal, the highest state we can attain, is to escape that simulation for awhile. Just for awhile. Here and there. At the moments that we decide to escape. Yes, we’re going to come back. Yes, the walls will dissolve and we’ll find ourselves back in a world that seems somehow foreign to us, created by others. But for a few moments, as often as you can… love. Love as purely and honestly as you can. And create as openly and honestly and purely as you can. Look beyond the reality around you and try to touch something much, much deeper. Don’t write your poem as a reaction to the world around you, write the poem that you didn’t even know was inside you. Don’t ape the masters as you paint that painting, paint from a place in you that you never knew existed. And know that when you do, you have the ability to form your own life, to create your own reality, and when you do… to know that everything will work out for the best.
- The Cube on YouTube